Hitherto, Villa's progress in the FA Cup had been noted but had not stimulated huge interest until Villa's local antagonists, the Albion, were put to the sword in the quarter-finals. By the time Villa found out that they were to be up against Liverpool in the semi-final, Villa's mostly improved performances since Tim Sherwood's arrival caused their faithful supporters to be more upbeat. Claims of "Tekkers will sort 'em out" and ambitious visions of a substantial Liverpool defeat became a normal form of communication from one Villa fan to another and on the blogs.
When, however, the due kick-off arrived the anticipation had been hushed just a little, but only a little. But when Baker went off injured after only about 20 minutes, it didn't look quite so good despite Villa's bright start. Yet another Villa centre-back had to retire to the bench: it had been like this all season, it seemed. Sherwood shook his head in disbelief.
Worse, Villa went behind and the replacement and still warming-up centre-back, Okore, was not only partly to blame for helping Liverpool to probe their way through, but it was also his knee that deflected the ball into the net when it looked as though the ball might have gone at least 10 yards wide. But then Tekkers did indeed "sort 'em out" with an emphatic finish after a glorious Villa move that sliced through the Liverpool defence down the left. It was back to all-square at half-time.
The second half came alight within 10 minutes of the restart when another glorious Benteke-Grealish-Delph move down the left ended with Villa's captain scoring as though scoring was a weekly activity for him. It wasn't: it was only his second of the season, and both scored in the Cup.
The fun didn't stop there. On at least two occasions it seemed Villa must add again to their tally; Liverpool seemed to be all at sea facing Villa's brilliant and incisive interplay, something that Villa's younger fans had not even seen before in their lifetime. The pre-match optimism had been totally justified.
It got to the point that Liverpool clearly lost faith in themselves as two or three headed chances went begging in the last quarter period of the game, but Villa were not to be outdone. After a mostly wretched season, Villa had played like a team completely reborn and, furthermore, a dominant team. Every player deserved high commendation for their effort, and three - Delph, Grealish and Benteke - were nothing short of outstanding.Arsenal in the Final? It will be just another game to this lot!
Can a 58-year wait soon be over? Of course it can!